[Humanist] 27.947 humanities to what end?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Apr 6 11:53:41 CEST 2014

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 947.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sat, 05 Apr 2014 17:21:37 +0200
        From: Jan Christoph Meister <jan-c-meister at uni-hamburg.de>
        Subject: Re:  27.946 events:  "Imagine there were no humanities" (Warsaw)
        In-Reply-To: <20140405094505.1B5B063A4 at digitalhumanities.org>

Certainly a worthwhile thought experiment and conference!

But how about putting an end to our wailing and antagonizing about the 
future by giving this a positive spin, rather than attempting to prove 
our necessity ex negativo and, again, by way of comparison with and 
reference to past achievements? In my practical experience (that is, as 
past HoD of Humanities departments competing with other disciplines for 
attention and funds within and beyond two universities) the single 
biggest "PR handicap" is that most of our disciplines invest next to no 
effort into defining their future purpose. How do we plan to "add value" 
- intellectually, politically, aesthetically, conceptually - to society 
over the next 2-3 decades? What's our medium-term mission for the next 
generation of scholarship?

Unlike other disciplines that "sell future" (even where it is as 
invisible as a Higgs Boson particle) we seem stuck on "selling the 
past".  And that's a conceptual and philosophical problem for the 
Humanities, not just a question of trivial PR strategy.


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